Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Questions (107, 108, 115, 116)

Joan Burton

Question:

107. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of outdoor customs staff stationed on the Border by county. [14312/19]

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Joan Burton

Question:

108. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the estimate by the Revenue Commissioners of likely Exchequer losses by tax head arising from smuggling across the EU's land border with the United Kingdom once the United Kingdom has left the EU. [14313/19]

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Joan Burton

Question:

115. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of trained dogs engaged in customs and excise activities; the number of dogs under training; and if the Revenue Commissioners plan to increase the number of such animals. [14508/19]

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Joan Burton

Question:

116. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of Revenue Commissioners staff involved in customs valuation activities; the levels of qualification and experience of such staff; and if the Revenue Commissioners plan to increase their number and training. [14509/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107, 108, 115 and 116 together.

Revenue has provided me with the following table which provides details of staff assigned to compliance activities in border counties as well as the total staff based in these counties; this includes staff that are assigned to outdoor duties. Revenue is an integrated tax and customs administration and its resources are deployed based on risk rather than by reference to a specific tax or duty.

Location

Compliance Staff

Total Staff

Donegal

73

108

Louth

65

251

Monaghan

20

40

Sligo

52

72

TOTAL

210

471

As the Deputy is aware, forecasts of tax and duty receipts are produced by the Department of Finance with assistance from Revenue. The role of Revenue is to advise of any potential increases and decreases in taxation that they become aware of in the course of administering taxes and duties and from other data sources available to them. Given the ongoing uncertainty with regard to the eventual Brexit outcome, and the challenges of estimating the impact of smuggling on tax and duty receipts even in normal times, I am advised that it is not possible to develop a credible estimate at this time.

I am advised by Revenue that it currently has twenty trained detector dog teams engaged in Customs and Excise activities. This includes one team that operates on behalf of the Department of Agriculture. Revenue is also running a Dog Handler competition to fill six further positions that are vacant currently.

Revenue has confirmed that it is satisfied that the current level of detector dog teams meets existing Customs and Excise requirements. However, the situation is continuously monitored and further resources can be recruited should the need arise.

I am advised by Revenue that valuation is an integral element of customs training and skills development and that staff involved in customs work could be involved in customs valuation depending on the nature of the work being undertaken at any given time. This includes staff who work in trade facilitation, in customs post clearance checks and in customs compliance management. Training on customs valuation is a standard element of the customs training program. Revenue is a fully integrated tax and customs administration and it is not possible to identify the number of staff deployed on customs at any given time. As a result it is also not possible to provide information on the qualification and experience of these staff.

As the Deputy is aware, in September 2018, the Government granted approval in principle for the phased recruitment of an additional 600 Revenue staff to meet the challenges posed by Brexit. The majority of those six hundred staff will be working on customs work and have undertaken or will undertake an intensive in-house customs training course which includes training on customs valuation.